LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma
DAVAO City has embarked on a special training program for its health workers in preparation for the arrival of coronavirus vaccines from Astra Zeneca. The training is done under the auspices of the Regional office of the Department of Health and the City Health Office. Davao City was among the local government units that signed a tripartite agreement with the national government and the pharmaceutical company. City Mayor Inday Sara Duterte wants at least 70% of the city’s 1.8-million population inoculated to achieve a safe level of herd immunity at the earliest time possible.
The city will also utilize the data from its Quick Response Code for the names of individuals who may avail of the vaccination program aside from the medical front liners and other priority groups which well have a first crack at the vaccine.
With the number of countries and LGUs that had placed their orders for AZ vaccines, Mayor Inday Sara is actually looking at other sources, among these are Johnsons & Johnsons (US/Belgium/Israel) Gamaleya (Russia), Sinovac, and Sinopharm from China. AZ is developed by Oxford University and Astra Zeneca of the United Kingdom. This group of vaccines is preferred by the City Government for ease of transport and storage considering the size and terrain of the city which is also the largest in the Philippines. She said that the storage temperature requirement for the vaccines will be no problem as the degree of the coldness of a regular refrigerator will suffice. The cold storage requirement for Pfizer and Moderna is -80 degrees centigrade. Having a cold-chain facility is a nightmare for a city six times the size of Metro Manila and three times that of Cebu City.
AstraZeneca and other group vaccines I cited use harmless modified or altered virus to trigger the immune system to produce antibodies. Pfizer and Moderna vaccines processes are too complex to understand will leave it to the immunologists and doctors to explain otherwise in times like this, just leave it to faith. AZ was just given a green light by the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines under what the World Health Organization termed as Emergency Use Authority. Whether the EUA will expedite the supply and delivery of the vaccines to the Philippines is something we all devoutly wish.
For a situational condition where a number of people are in a state of anxiety and adamance to having a jab against Covid-19, the variety of options help, especially in confidence-building. Our Mayor Inday Sara, too, is confident that when the vaccines arrive on or before the 3rd quarter of this year her constituents, health personnel, and storage and transport facilities will be ready for the immunization program all the way to the remotest barangays of the largest city in the world.
About the Columnist
Mr. Jun Ledesma is a community journalist who writes from Davao City and comments from the perspective of a Mindanaoan.